The Carolina Hurricanes beat the Washington Capitals on Friday night 2-1, but then were embarrassed by New Jersey on Saturday night, 6-1.Â How can a team go from one end of the spectrum to the other, in just 24 hours? You can ask the Canes, but I doubt that they have any answers for you. It's not the first time this season that the team has played a stinker immediately after having played a decent game.
Let's start off by talking about the very good game in Washington.
First of all, sorry that I didn't make it back for a post-game report on Friday night. I packed up in a hurry to hustle down to the locker-room and then afterwards stopped for some social time before heading back to the hotel. The next day was spent traveling, so I am finally getting caught up tonight. I'll make another posting later describing my experience.
I thought that Carolina played one of the best periods of hockey they had played all year in that 1st period against Washington. They were hitting anything that moved. They were attacking the Washington zone. They were skating hard.
The 2nd period wasn't quite as intense but was okay, and then they held on for dear life in the 3rd. But all in all, it was an excellent effort in a very important game. Cam Ward played extremely well and deserved the 1st star of the night honors.
Erik Cole's goal was a thing of beauty. It was almost identical to the last one he scored when he held the puck while cutting in front of the goalie, then released it behind the netminder. Is it time for a new move or do we get to see this one a couple more times?
Sergei Samsonov not only shows great skills but plays a smart game. He took a pass from Rod Brind'Amour and put it on net with every intention of the rebound popping out to Andrew Ladd who buried it. Nice play by all three players.
The intensity and hitting was certainly a highlight. For instance there was one play where Staal and Cole both hit Ovechkin at about the same time and it was a thing of beauty. If the superstar is constantly looking over his shoulder to see if he's going to get clocked, that's got to minimize his scoring.
The penalty kill was the best that it has been in awhile. Cam Ward was certainly helpful in that regard.
For the most part, the defense played well and didn't allow much time and space to anyone. They were especially aware of the whereabouts of one Alexander Ovechkin.
Ray Whitney had 4 minor penalties for 8 minutes in the box. Not good.
Alex Semin undressed Trevor Letowski twice on the same play and ended up scoring. First Trevor lost him behind the net, and allowed him an open shot from the slot, then lost him again as Semin crashed the net while smacking in the rebound attempt. The other players on the ice did little to help. Nic (I don't want to be traded) Wallin is -15, Frank (no one wants to trade for me) Kaberle is -11, and Ray (no defensive Wizard) Whitney is -7. None of them were able stop Semin, who skated around in a big circle in the Canes zone on the play.
The Canes were back on their heels throughout most of the 3rd and were kind of lucky that the Caps didn't tie up the score. Cam Ward was able to stop the onslaught though with the help of the rest of the boys on the ice who were usually still trying hard on defense, even if they forgot about offense.
All in all, it was a very good effort in an important game and they came out on top, but then they ruined it and went to New Jersey.
The highlights of the Jersey game......
Keith Aucoin scored a goal off of a nice feed from Scott Walker. That gives Aucoin 7 points and a plus 6 rating in just 14 games while Trevor Letowski has 6 points and is -15 after 52 games. I think that the wrong player keeps getting sent back to Albany.
There are just too many negatives to get into. The Canes came out flat, a couple of fluky goals were scored, and the next thing you know it was 4-1. They might as well not have come out of the dressing room to start the 2nd period because I don't think any of them wanted to be there. The worst thing about that game is that it wasn't the first time the team had played so horribly and fans are probably figuring that it won't be the last.
The big question is can the Canes recover? Earlier today, the Capitals beat the Rangers to take over 1st place in the division once again. Atlanta is currently tied for 2nd, while Florida is just one point back. So, who wants the Southeast title the most?